Excessive traction or rotation during delivery can result in serious spinal cord injuries to infants. The use of mechanical devices such as forceps or vacuums can increase the risk of these types of injuries. Other risk factors include breech deliveries, infants with high birth-weights, and abnormal or excessive traction during delivery. These risks can be diminished by an appropriately timed cesarean delivery.
Cases where the upper cervical cord or lower brain stem suffered injury can result in still-birth or neonatal death if adequate respiratory function is not established.
According to some studies, nearly half of all birth traumas are avoidable. Proper recognition and anticipation can greatly reduce the risk of a child suffering a permanent injury or death.